Over the last few posts you will have seen the rise of the six Junior Heavyweights that defined what British wrestling was to become. I call them Jr. Heavyweights because really that is what they where by Japanese/American Standards. All six had runs with or at Jr. titles in Japan, Canada and the US, and it is a better catch all that the Lightweight-Mid Heavyweight stages they all ranged around when here.
Today we go back to Marty Jones and Mark Rocco. This match was recently praised highly by none more a legend that William Regal. He defined this match as "the one that changed the game" in the UK wrestling scene. Well if the Master says so we shall analyze.
Okay aside from Marty's rather dodgy perm (it was the seventies we can forgive him) we have the classic introduction. Rocco the ball of energy contrasted with Jones' hand on hips laid back John Wayne approach. Rocco was the British Heavy Middleweight Champ, Jones Light Heavyweight, a Catchweight contest that usually meant a big draw if it was two titleists. The crowd appear hot for this from the off and are looking for sparks to fly. As in our previous match between the two there had been a build up which ended in a fight outside the ring, something of a consistent storyline that as I have said before built up a real tension between the two inside the ring. In reality as always the two happened to be great friends, but why wouldn't you be when you could produces matches together like this?
The striking starts early with Rocco taking the advantage, then back to the mat where they both felt at home. The crisp and stiff holds and counters coming thick and fast. Rocco already established as a top line heel is getting heat for just existing. "Break it off" is the cry from the crowd as Jones, charming. Mark plays to this a little but clearly they are going to take us on an emotional ride before this story ends. The first sequence of round one though is breathtaking for speed and intensity, deep hard arm drag after arm drag meet the Rocco offense. As Marty applies a hammerlock, the correct way to do it as demonstrated by no less than Daniel Bryan. What is interesting in this bout is that Max Ward lets them go quite a bit, he normally was on top of anything entertaining, but he understood the importance of letting everyone have their moment in this match.
The first fall comes with a body slam and double knee hold. The classic British finisher, Magnus should bring it back. Rocco's constant attacks on the crowd show his love of being a heel, Marty's trademark sit on the bottom rope, his perennial message of disappointment means we should have a cracking round four. The inverted posting and coffin bump, pre-dates the Flair flip by a good few years I would say, here it signifies the beginning of the end of fall two, the crowd erupts after the flying tackle. Surely Joint promotions must have realised they had something great on their hands with these two, and to be fair the did. This second serious feud in as many years must have packed them in. A very early missile drop kick also crops up in the next sequence as the two play one-up-man-ship all through the fourth heading back to the power of the posting. TO be honest postings always looked stiffer in UK rings and I don't know why. What did look dangerous and was the downfall of Rocco in a later match was the exposed turn buckles that Marty throws him into. Back in the day the standard reversal for a posting was a foot on the middle buckle. Rocco facing Jones one night missed his footing and wrapped his leg around the pad and sliced his knee. Didn't slow him down of course.
Things are getting intense by round six. Things kick off with a stunning exchange for pace and power, the big moves coming thick and fast form both sides. The finish comes with a Jones mistake, a key part of the story. What is as important as this match is the post match interview. Not the normal run of events to be sure, but the challenge worked. It drew money like nobodies business, Jones dropped weight in the storyline to get down to the Heavy Middleweight bracket, went through a series of qualifiers whilst defending the Light Heavyweight title and then got to face Rocco again on TV. He beat Rocco thus ending the feud neatly and allowed him to move on to the next challenge. However that gave money matches for promoters around the country and was the first real long term angle to develop from the six, a pattern that would be repeated over the next few years as we shall see next time.
Have a good time till the next time.